Shuter to become MTN CEO three months early

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Former Vodafone Netherlands CEO will join MTN in March instead of July

Rob Shuter is set to take the reins at MTN three months earlier than expected, as the South African mobile operator said data traffic has more than doubled year-on-year.

Shuter was due to start by 1 July 2017, but said he will now takeover at MTN on 17 March instead. He is joining from Vodafone Group, where he was most recently CEO at Vodafone Netherlands and sat on the executive committee.

He will replace Sifiso Dabengwa who resigned last November following a $5.2 billion fine in Nigeria, although the company has been overseen by Phuthuma Nhleko, who will return to his role as non-executive chairman when Shuter starts.

“During the quarter the group embarked on a material transformation project, focusing initially on its key operations of Nigeria and South Africa,” Nhleko said in the statement. “A dedicated transformation office was established” and there are “hard targets set for the next 12, 18 and 24 months.”

MTN said data traffic had soared 142% in the nine months through to the end of September, while voice volumes also rose 1.8%. It also saw subscribers across the Group grow by 0.9% on a quarterly basis to 235 million, including a 2.5% rise in Nigeria.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, but it has faced trouble there after the it was prosecuted by the Nigerian government for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards the government feared were being used by terrorists.

It imposed a $5.2 billion fine on the Johannesberg-based carrier, who immediately opened talks about reducing the amount, which it did (to $3.9 billion). However, these talks broke down in May, before an agreement for a $1.7 billion payment was struck in June.